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Please tell us about yourself
Ruhi Sinha always wanted to pursue a career where she could apply both her intellectual and creative abilities. Being an animator suited her interests. So, how did Sinha achieve a dream career? “Being brought up by a journalist father and an artist mother, their creative pursuits had a big influence on me. As a child, I had too many hobbies and interests. After college I started working as a software engineer in India, but soon enough, felt like a misfit.
What did you study? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
I did my Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering from Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur. Then one fine day, I happened to watch ‘Finding Nemo’ and that was my moment of truth. I wanted to create a magical world. Soon after, I began reading animation books in my spare time, quit my job and went to pursue master’s in computer graphics and game technology at the University of Pennsylvania. As luck would have it, I was hired at DreamWorks while I was finishing my last semester there,” says Sinha, who is now based in Los Angeles.
Tell us about your career path
With over seven years of experience as an artist and technician in the animation film industry and video game industry, Sinha has worked on many films such as Home, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Turbo, Kung Fu Panda 2, Monsters Vs. Aliens and AAA rated video games. Sinha, who grew up in Mumbai and Goa, has worked both as technical director and lighting artist on The Croods, which was nominated for the Oscars and won the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature.
What is needed to be successful as an animator?
“To be part of a film that is nominated in the same category as a creative genius like Hayao Miyazaki (nominated for ‘The Wind Rises’), is an honour,” says Sinha, who believes that this achievement has not been easy to attain. “When I started out in 2005, there were no animation courses in India which offered an all-rounded specialisation that not only teach basics like how to animate, but also help you understand the physics and math behind computer generated imagery, principles of visual storytelling, the art of filmmaking and the needs of the industry. In India, students are being exposed to software usage which can be mastered very easily. This may be help one find a job but it’s not enough to create a benchmark in this field,” she says.
In order to be at par with industry leaders, it’s important for technology, art and design institutes in India to offer specialisations in computer graphics and animation, she adds. Clearing misconceptions about the skills required to be an animator, Sinha says, “Animation is only for those who can draw, doodle or paint. This was true for traditional hand drawn animation but in 3D animation art is only one aspect, technology is equally important. Also, you shouldn’t compartmentalise yourself even if you become a specialist in one area of animation, always be proactive in sustaining your skills as an all-rounder.”
For this young animator, working with the finest of the lot from all over the world is the best part of the job. “Every film comes with a different set of challenges. We have to continuously work hard for months, and sometimes years, to make a 90 minute film that makes people smile. This is what I cherish the most,” she concludes.